The term “principle of natural justice” is derived from the Latin word “jus natural,” and although it is not codified, it is closely tied to common law and moral principles. It is a natural law that has nothing to do with any statute or constitution. All inhabitants of civilised states place the highest value on adherence to the natural justice principle. The Supreme Court issued its directive with the passage of time and the formation of social, just, and economic statutory protection for workers during the early days of fair practise, when industrial regions were governed by strict and rigid law to hire and fire.
Making an informed and fair judgement regarding a specific matter is known as natural justice. Sometimes, the reasonable decision is irrelevant; what important is the process and the participants in arriving at the reasonable decision. It is not constrained by the idea of “fairness,” and it comes in a variety of hues and tones depending on the situation.
The first is the “Hearing Rule,” which provides that the party or person who will be impacted by the judgement made by the expert panel shall be given a reasonable opportunity to present his case and be heard. (Audi alteram partem or the rule of fair hearing)
Second, the “Bias Rule” generally states that an expert panel should be impartial while making a judgement. The judgement should be made in a free and impartial manner that can uphold the natural justice principle.
Thirdly, “Reasoned Decision” describes an order, judgement, or other court action made by the presiding authority on a justifiable and valid basis.
The principle of natural justice is a very old concept that dates back to ancient times. This concept was also known to Greek and Roman people. Natural justice was recognised in the days of Kautilya, arthashastra, and Adam. When Eve and Adam ate the fruit of knowledge, according to the Bible, they were forbidden by the god. Eve was given a fair chance to defend herself before the sentence was handed down, and the same procedure was followed in the case of Adam. The concept of natural justice was later accepted by English jurists. Natural justice is derived from the Roman words ‘jus-naturale’ and ‘lex-naturale,’ which laid out the principles of natural justice, natural law, and equity.
This concept was introduced in India at an early stage. The court held in Mohinder Singh Gill vs. Chief Election Commissioner that the concept of fairness should be present in all actions, whether judicial, quasi-judicial, administrative, or quasi-administrative in nature.
1. In this case, the district collector as the chairman of the regional transport authority granted a motor permit to the above cooperative society, of which he was also the president. The court should_____
- allow the collector’s action.
- set aside the collector’s action on the ground of the bias rule.
- set aside the collector’s action on the ground of the hearing rule.
- allow the collector’s action on the ground of reasoned decision.
Ans: The correct answer is (b). The court can set aside the collector’s action on the ground of bias leading to impartiality as the person chairman is the president of the cooperative society.
2. A departmental inquiry was held against A, an employee and one of the witnesses against A turned hostile. The inquiry officer then left the inquiry and gave evidence against him and thereafter resumed to complete the inquiry and passed the order of dismissal. Can the court order dismissal be quashed on the ground of personal bias?
- Yes, as the inquiry officer helped with the evidence.
- Yes, as the witness turned hostile.
- No, as A was not held liable for any wrong.
- No, as A is just an employee and the court has no jurisdiction in this matter.
Ans: The correct answer is (a). The inquiry officer gave evidence against him which shows personal bias and is against the principle of natural justice.
3. A is a student at PNL University. The authorities of the University notice cancelled the degree of A on the ground of misconduct, without giving any grounds for the same. The matter was bought to the court. Is the university’s act violative of the principles of natural justice?
- No. The university should not allow misconduct and take strict actions.
- Yes. A was not provided with the grounds of violation which is against the bias rule.
- No. As the university followed the right procedure.
- Yes. A was not provided with the grounds of violation which is against the hearing rule.
Ans: The correct answer is (d). A should have been given a reasonable opportunity to present his case and be heard.
4. Mr. A received a notice for a departmental inquiry. However, the notice lacked the time, place, nature of the hearing, etc. Due to this Mr. A failed to attend the hearing and the department ordered against him. Decide.
- The department was right in its action. It was Mr. A’s fault to miss the meeting.
- Mr. A should file a writ of certiorari
- The court can quash the decision as the notice lacked the necessary details.
- None. The question lacks complete information.
Ans: The correct answer is (c). The notice must be reasonable and must contain the time, place, nature of the hearing and other particulars.
5. A, a student appeared for the examination in 2023. But the board, without giving a notice cancelled the examination on the ground of the shortage of attendance. The show cause notice would not serve the purpose since the evidence (shortage of attendance) is borne on the record. Is this matter related to the “Hearing Rule”?
- No, as the matter talks about an incident of attendance as a ground for cancelled the examination
- No, as show cause notice would not serve as the shortage of attendance is on record.
- Yes, the student was not given an opportunity of being heard.
- No, as the matter relates to “Reasoned Decision”.
Ans: The correct answer is (c). The student was not given an opportunity of being heard which relates to the “Hearing Rule”.